Health expert says vaccine process should not be politicized

Inside the Fight Against COVID-19

NEW YORK CITY- (CBS)- The CEO’s of nine pharmaceutical companies have signed a pledge to make safety and the well-being of vaccinated people the top priority in the development of the first COVID-19 vaccines. 

There are three trials in Phase 3 here in the U.S. but polls show only a fraction of Americans say they’ll get the vaccine as soon as one is available. 

Natalie Hayden is one of the millions of Americans with an underlying health condition that puts her at high risk for complications from coronavirus. Treatments for her Crohn’s disease have weakened her immune system. She says a vaccine would be a lifeline for her and her family.

“I’m a little bit apprehensive about getting the vaccine, but I do think in the end I will be getting it,” said Hayden.

Hayden is not alone. Americans are growing increasingly skeptical about a potential vaccine.

The latest CBS News poll shows just 21% say they’d get a vaccine as soon as one were available. That’s down from 32% in July.

But experts say the science behind the vaccines has been sound.

 “It’s gone incredibly fast but it’s been done with integrity,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean at Brown University’s School of Public health.

Jha is worried that months of hard work on vaccines could be compromised by political pressure on the FDA and by campaign politics affecting people’s attitudes about their safety.

“Our national response to this pandemic has not been stellar on so many different levels. But the one area where we’ve actually done a really good job is vaccines,” said Dr. Jha. “I want to make sure we don’t fumble on the one yard line here. We’ve got to keep politics out of this.”

Dr. Jha says we could have a vaccine by October, but it’s likely to be more like November or December. 

But even once we hit that approval process, Dr. Jha says it could be well into next year before we’ve got enough vaccines to give to most Americans who want to take them. 

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